Who is the Greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?

Why is the Taiwan Love and Hope International Charity going through so much trouble to raise funds to put up a Children’s Home? Why not just focus on its ongoing ministry for Syrian refugees in Turkey and poor communities in the Philippines? Aren’t these ministries much simpler and easier to do? Shouldn’t we just focus on doing one thing instead of several other things at the same time?

It was back in 2017 when Anny and I were asked to help out an orphanage based in Kaohsiung which was founded by a foreign friend whom we have known since 2005. The orphanage was struggling with both financial and administrative issues. My wife, several times, initially turned down the request for help since we were busy with our Love and Hope Ministry and family import and distribution business and restaurant.

It was until when a trusted Pastor and friend who was also invested in the plight of the orphanage persuaded us to help that we, as a couple, made the decision to say ‘yes’ in helping the organization which we knew back then was going to be very troublesome. We were clear about the mission that had to be done and prayed to God for guidance and wisdom.

To make a long story short, 2017-2019 was a very difficult time for the whole family especially my wife and children. It was humiliating and defeating with all the ill-talk and harmful gossip thrown at us and the others who got involved and affected by the organizational politicking. On the other hand, it was also a period marked by unexplainable miracles made possible by God. Those who have been following our story would know of our painful struggles and the miraculous victories.

 

The Greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven and The Lost Sheep

Anny, being the loving and protective mother that she is, knew that much more had to be done at the orphanage so that it is not just like a petting zoo meant only to attract donors. She was burdened in making sure that the children did not only have a roof over their heads and food to eat but to consistently receive the proper psychological, emotional, and nutritional care and support crucial for their proper growth and development. Mothers who have genuinely taken care of their own children would understand this. She tried her best to love and nourish the needs of the children in the same way as we did our own children and to make sure that such a display of love was carried out by the nannies and other members working for the organization. For this reason, I admired her so much.

In Matthew 18: 2-5:

18 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

2 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. 3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

I never ever doubted my wife’s love and dedication to our own children but it was during her time in helping the orphanage that I witnessed her genuine love and desire to care for the vulnerable children as though there was some inherent greatness in them. They were young children and yet valued for greatness. I saw a woman, a mother, willing to sacrifice herself out of love.

And then, Anny and I met a lost lamb (young sheep) whom we eventually welcomed into our own family. The Parable of the Lost Sheep is a story very familiar to many Christians. The lamb had a severe disability and medical condition and yet for some strange reason was not given the consistent and proper attention and care appropriate for her situation during her stay in the orphanage before we started helping them out. I had the choice to back away and say that it was none of my business. Instead, I realized that God gave me the talent to study and teach psychology. I have taught courses on Biopsychology, Developmental Psychology, Learning Disabilities, and even the planning and management of social work cases and programs. I knew I had to do something and couldn’t just be a bystander.

It was this lost sheep at the orphanage who became the inspiration and motivation for my wife to set the vision to grow the organization so that it could be better equipped and capable to respond to the needs of lost lambs which she discovered was somehow not properly addressed among orphanages in Kaohsiung. I firmly believe it was a vision, a burden that God planted in her heart. To be a mother and fearless shepherd ready to face down the wolves in Taiwanese society in order to care for and protect vulnerable children.  Matthew 18: 13-14 states: 13 And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. 14 In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.

At the height of the politicking, the Pastor friend informed me that perhaps my wife and the organization no longer shared the same vision. Either Anny or the board would have to step down. We know how the story goes which happened around the month of March in 2019.

It was a bitter and humiliating experience but it was also a defining moment for each member of my family, a defining moment not only for my wife but especially for my daughters. Deciding to bring home to take care of a baby with severe disability was a very tough and life-changing decision to make. We could have decided to just walk away and just let Taiwan’s Social Bureau deal with this matter since, in fact, it really happens with children with a similar disability and situation. We could have just gone on with our normal routine and our own ministry for Syrian refugees after Anny resigned from the orphanage.

The path of discipleship for my wife and children according to the ways and teachings of Jesus Christ was truly a difficult one. Deciding to take care of the lost lamb was truly a defining moment in our lives.

 

The Story of Noah’s ARK

I am reminded of the biblical story in Genesis 6:14-16 when God called Noah to build an ark in anticipation of the great flood. Noah followed in spite of being misunderstood and even mocked by his friends and neighbors. He believed and had faith in God even though he was adjudged as crazy. As the story goes, Noah’s obedience in building such a troublesome ark did not only save him and his family but others as well.

It is hard to say ‘no’ to a gracious, merciful, and loving God. It is perhaps the biggest leap of faith one can take to follow a vision or burden placed by God in our hearts. I am fully aware of this especially after God placed a seed and burden in my heart to reach out to Muslim brothers and sisters in the Middle East back around 2010 which eventually led to my whole family leaving the comforts of Taiwan in 2013. I recall my wife telling me that I was crazy the first time I told her that I wanted to leave my stable job at Shu-Te University and that I wanted to work somewhere in the Middle East. In spite of her initial reaction, out of love, she and the children eventually supported me and out of our time in Turkey came the Love and Hope Ministry. In our own small ways, we may not have changed the world but we have changed the world for the struggling Syrians who needed a home, food to eat, clothes to wear, and schooling for their children.

Anny, being the faithful servant of God that she is, knows that she is being called to build an ark to protect orphans in Taiwan. I know it is a very huge leap of faith. After being betrayed, mocked, and terribly hurt during her time in freely serving the orphanage, still, she wants to take care of orphans with special needs and disabilities. By all standards, it is crazy. But Matthew 18: 14 tells us, “…your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.”

I have witnessed how this vision/burden has been planted by God in her heart to shepherd lost lambs. She always has a choice to just walk away or even not to respond to God’s calling out of free will. Our lives can be much simpler and easier. Who wouldn’t want that? So why is the Taiwan Love and Hope International Charity going through so much trouble to raise funds to put up a Children’s Home? Why not just focus on its ongoing ministry for Syrian refugees in Turkey and poor communities in the Philippines?

Noah could have built an ark the size big enough for his own family and maybe including his favorite pet dog. As we know it, the tremendous size of the ark was as huge as Noah’s faith and love for God.

What was once the Love and Hope Ministry in 2014 grew into the Taiwan Love and Hope International Association in 2017. Now, we are calling it the Taiwan Love and Hope International Charity with the hope of establishing a home for children with special needs and disabilities in 2020. It was the comedy movie, Evan Almighty (2007) which is about a congressman (Steve Carell) whom God (Morgan Freeman) asked to build an ark that the acronym Acts of Random Kindness was introduced.

At a time when Taiwan is immensely suffering from population decline because of the decision of many young couples and families not to have children, we all need to work together to build an ark for children especially those with severe disabilities and medical conditions to remind ourselves that God already told us in Matthew 18: 2-5 as to WHO is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. We need to all work together in building this ark for children in Taiwan as a testimony and reminder of how important children are to Taiwan’s sustainable future.

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